27 April 2015 – Fifty displaced women in North Darfur took a significant step towards financial stability and economic independence as UN Women launched two women-operated bakeries in North Darfur yesterday. The ceremony marked the successful end of a months-long programme designed to provide women living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps with the means to earn a living in a safe environment.
The handover ceremony took place in El Fasher, North Darfur, where UN Women in collaboration with the Dar Salaam Women Development Society, presented the women with a generator, oven, freezers, display cases and other equipment and furnishings to establish and operate bakeries in Zamzam and Abushok IDP camps.
Emotions ran high, with many of the women present openly crying with happiness as the complete list of equipment was read aloud. Some spoke of having lived in the camps since 2003, often unable to find enough food for their families.
The programme began in December 2014, and was specifically designed to encourage financial sustainability among IDP women. UN Women also trained the 50 women in developing their marketing, income management, entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
In her speech, the head of UN Women’s Darfur sub-office, Mary Mbeo, emphasized the positive effect of small, camp-based enterprises in providing safe, alternative sources of income for these women. She praised their potential to evolve into strong, self-sustaining businesses.
Representatives of the Dar Salaam Women Development Society were led by Ms Zahra Abdulnaeem Mohammed. “Safety and security of women must be seen in a wider context of what continues to make them vulnerable,” she said, thanking UN Women for supporting the initiative. She stressed her organization’s aim to help reduce risk to women living in these IDP camps, where their daily search for water, firewood and employment in nearby towns takes them away from the relative safety of the camps.
While the Dar Salam Women Development Society has a long history of designing successful income-generating projects, this programme is the first of its kind in a North Darfur IDP camp. Zamzam and Abushouk are home to thousands of displaced families and are among the largest in Sudan. The training manual developed specifically for these women will be used to support similar income-generating activities in the region.
UN Women’s mandate in Sudan includes the support for women’s economic empowerment and working toward an end to violence against women and girls.